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Study Abroad - From WASEDA to the world -

From Waseda to USA

Mr. Masaki Watanabe
March 2010 Graduate of the School of Political Science and Economics

As part of the TSA Program, Mr. Masaki Watanabe studied abroad for 1 year at Earlham College in the state of Indiana. Ms. Watanabe says that she was not confident of her English ability at first. “At first, it was particularly difficult for me to keep pace with classes. I had trouble understanding the contents of lectures and responding to questions. In the beginning, I regretted and complained about applying for the program despite having a low TOEFL score.” However, Ms. Watanabe stopped making excuses upon seeing other foreign exchange students speaking fluent English on campus. She reread books many times until she understood the contents, refusing to give up even if it meant working several times harder than other students. “I took a negative view of my situation many times while studying abroad. However, the only solution to my problems was for me to change myself.”

Incidentally, what kind of place is Earlham College? “It's a cozy, intimate university located in the suburbs. There are about 1,000 students in attendance. The college is known for being relatively liberal, and it is also known for being the first college in America to start Japanese language education and research in Japanese culture. Approximately 10% of the students are foreign students, and there are Japanese students and instructors. The local students show an understanding towards Japanese people and our culture.” From Mr. Watanabe's description, the college seems to offer a comfortable environment even for foreign students who are experiencing their first taste of life abroad.

Ms. Watanabe found time between her studies to participate in an Ultimate Frisbee club team. Ultimate Frisbee, a sport resembling American football, is played by two teams of 7 members. “I spent hours riding in a friend's car on our way to a game at a distant school. On the night of road games, all the teammates slept in sleeping bags in the same room. I will never forget the days that I spent together with my teammates. More than anything else, extracurricular activities were a good way to practice my language abilities.”

After returning to Japan, Ms. Watanabe assumed the position of Foreign Study Advisor at the Waseda University Center for International Education. She draws upon her own experiences in order to give advice to younger students. “I wanted to repay my feeling of gratitude towards everyone who assisted me while I studied abroad, and working at the Center for International Education gives me such an opportunity,” says Ms. Watanabe when explaining her position. Also, she wanted to travel around the world while working for a company that possesses solid technology strength. This desire led Ms. Watanabe to enter employment at Hitachi Plant Technologies after graduating from university. “Communication when studying abroad requires more than just English ability. The intent to convey yourself to others is also very important,” says Ms. Watanabe when discussing tips for making foreign study into a meaningful experience. “Finally, more than anything else, a fulfilling study abroad experience is not provided by any university or individual. It is an experience that you grasp yourself.”

(Offered by WASEDA WEEKLY)